Will Notre Dame refuse to recall St. Thomas More's last words?:"I die the King's good servant, but God's first."
- St. Thomas More (Last words from the execution scaffold on Tower Hill in London July 6, 1535)
In a statement made on their website, Notre Dame President, Fr. Jenkins is already glowing over Obama (Mr. 100% NARAL approved in 2005, 2006, 2007) and his upcoming Sunday "visit". If you haven't heard, Fr. Jenkins has invited Obama to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address to the most prominent Catholic University in the United States of America. Obama would be only the 9th president to be dignified with an honorary degree from Notre Dame in its over 160 year history of existence.
Like a child who can't wait to open his Christmas presents Fr. Jenkins is already lavishing praise upon heaps of adulation from fellow liberal adorers. One statement calls Obama "an inspiring leader who faces many challenges – the economy, two wars, and health care, immigration and education reform". Absent in this list of challenges that Fr. Jenkins' inspiring hero faces is the greatest challenge of all time for every modern day leader - protecting the innocent child in the womb. If Obama is so inspiring a leader, then why hasn't he inspired you Fr. Jenkins to challenge Obama's pro-abortion policies?
Another statement reads "Mr. Obama has been a healer". Is that so? Where is the proof? What tangible evidence do you have for dignifying Obama? Fr. Jenkins only passively states his disagreement over Obama's abortion policy, which isn't even directed to Obama himself, in the end of the statement as if he was compelled to save face.
The statement opens in a defensive posture: "Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to our graduates". However, speaking is not all that's going on at the commencement ceremony. Notre Dame is elevating Obama with the dignity of receiving an honorary degree. Of the 'decades' of presidents speaking to Notre Dame's graduates only 8 would be exalted with an honorary degree in its 160 year history.
Furthermore, Fr. Jenkins is missing the point here. The root of Roman Catholic America's embarrassment with Fr. Jenkins welcoming the President goes beyond Republican/Democrat politics, race, or social traditions. Fr. Jenkins is overlooking his duty to lead as a representative of the Church in favor of human opinion. He is squandering his duty to uphold supernatural grace for the sake of social grace. He is confusing weakness for charity.
The 'visit' by Obama to the most prominent American Catholic institution in the entire nation isn't a mere 'drop in and say hi' social call - 'won't you give me a glass of lemonade because I'm parched and then I'll be on my way' visit. No, Fr. Jenkins has carefully planned and scheduled and fully intends to use the podium of the most prominent "Roman" Catholic University in America - the traditional American icon of Catholic academia - to publicly exalt and elevate glory upon the most prominent pro-abortion liberal politician in America. The problem is this: the message Notre Dame sends to the world is that Catholicism - to the most prominent Catholic University in the nation - can take the backseat to human opinion.
Some say that Obama may become a pro-life champion by some stroke of "Irish Luck". If, and I mean if, this happens then and only then should Notre Dame credit the man. But Obama's pro-abortion policies in his first 100 days in office are not deserving of aggrandizement. Obama once flaunted the pro-life movement declaring: "Planned Parenthood will not yield, and I will not yield". Where is Obama's inspiring work as a 'uniter' in this statement Fr. Jenkins? His 100 day track record has proven Obama's aggression true.
Let us remember the context of this event. Notre Dame isn't just a building with a podium. It is a traditional symbol of Catholic America. It is an institutional icon of the Church. It is a symbol of Christ Himself. President Obama isn't just a man occupying the oval office. He isn't merely filling a flat, voiceless, opinion-less, policy-less, vacancy. He is actively using his power to tear down the most natural moral law written in the hearts of every man - innocence of children and our duties to defend them.
Fr. Jenkins is seeing this as a D vs R political arena with tentative social repurcussions if he disinvites Obama. With his fixation upon the social and political arena, Fr. Jenkins fails to see that this is really a spiritual arena. In the spiritual arena the stakes are higher and the repurcussions are far more lasting and serious than any social faux pas. Fr. Jenkins, there are some human traditions we can afford to break.
In another letter to the Notre Dame graduating class of 2009 Fr. Jenkins defends his position with a quote from Scripture: "As St. Peter wrote (I Pt. 2:17), we should honor the leader who upholds the secular order." By giving out Notre Dame's only 9th honorary degree in its 160 year history? Also, Fr. Jenkins, the passage (1 Peter 2:17) actually reads like this: "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." Fr. Jenkins must have also been missing in Sunday school when they studied Matthew's Gospel: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you" (Matt. 7:6). As far as honoring the king we can pass along St. Thomas More's last words to Fr. Jenkins when the Saint said: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."